Paris St.Germain’s ambitions are considerable. The Qatari money that has started to push PSG into the same category as Europe’s juggernaut clubs is aimed at bringing serious silverware to the French capital – and that means, Champions League.
So the upcoming UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final with Barcelona offers PSG the chance to show the world that they are serious about joining the elite. If they win, then Carlo Ancelotti and his highly-paired performing ponies will start to believe they can become European champions.
But PSG will do well to watch Barca’s two games against Milan in the previous round. Milan thought they had done enough to eject Barca out of the competition when they won 2-0 in the San Siro. This triggered premature predictions that Barca’s reign as the continent’s premier team was coming to an end. The way they reacted to this challenge was impressive, nay absolutely awesome.
By half-time, Lionel Messi had wiped out the deficit, and in the second period, goals by David Villa and Jordi Alba gave Barca a 4-0 win. Never write them off, that was the message.
PSG seem to have the French league in their hands now and are eight points clear of Lyon. Their recent away form has been patchy, but in the Champions League, they have been focused and on their travels, have beaten Dynamo Kiev, Dinamo Zagreb and Valencia.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will relish the opportunity to face one of is former clubs. The Swede has scored 25 goals in the French League this season and looks set to add the title to those won with all his previous employers (Ajax, Inter, Juve, Milan and Barca) since he left Sweden. He’s one of Europe’s most celebrated players, but he hasn’t won the Champions League yet and his form in the competition this season has been inconsistent. At 31, time is starting to run out, but there won’t be any shortage of takers if he does leave PSG. Barca’s henchmen at the back in midfield, notably Mr. Pique, will have their eyes on the poney-tailed one.
Barcelona will know all about Ibrahimovic, but with Lionel Messi in irrepressible form, it should probably be PSG who do all the worrying. If his compatriot, Javier Pastore can keep the little man quiet, then maybe PSG have got a chance.
Barca have not had it all their own way this season, despite being 13 points clear at the top of La Liga. They were held to a draw at Celta Vigo this weekend and their El Clasico defeat against Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid is still fresh in the memory. Celtic exposed a few vulnerabilities in the group stages of the Champions League and Benfica held them to a draw at the Nou Camp, so they’re not invincible.
PSG will need to take a healthy lead to Catalonia and that may be beyond them. They may win the first leg, but as the last round demonstrated, 2-0 is often not enough. That said, PSG won in Spain against Valencia. Barca will be a lot tougher.
There’s no doubt that PSG’s owners will continue to strengthen their squad to make the club into credible contenders. That may be a year or two away. 2013 is unlikely to be their time.